Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Archives Collections List

J. R. Bernard Boivin (1916–1985)


HI Archives collection no. 215
52 boxes

Boivin, Joseph Robert Bernard
Photographer: Hugh Iltis
Date: ca.1959 (at age 43)
Location: IX International Botanical Congress Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa
HI Archives portrait no. 1

Biographical note
Dr. J. R. Bernard Boivin (1916–1985) was an eminent Canadian botanist. He received his B.A. from Collège Sainte-Marie in 1937, his L.Sc. from the University of Montreal in 1941, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1944. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he worked for the National Museum of Canada, returned to Harvard as a Guggenheim Fellow, and worked for the Department of Agriculture in Ottawa. Boivin’s botanical interests included teaching, publishing his work toward a flora of Canada, field work in and publications on the Canadian prairie provinces, and monographs on Rosa, Thalictrum, Westringia, Pteridophytes, Compositae, and others. He published over 170 items, including “Survey of Canadian herbaria,” in Provancheria (10, 1980).

In addition to his scientific interests, Boivin devoted himself to the history of botany, and his last publication was the “Botany history” section of The Canadian Encyclopedia (vol. 1, pp. 206–207, Edmonton, 1985). His contributions to the history of botany were underappreciated by his government employers who, like many people, assumed that the historical record would take care of itself.  Boivin spent over a decade collecting valuable biographical and bibliographical information on professional and amateur botanists who contributed to Canadian botany. Yet the concept, he cautioned, was not a simple one: “Canadian botany is not an endemic science. Most of our plants were described in Europe or in the U.S.A. Much collecting was done by travellers. Many Canadian botanists were born or educated outside Canada. Many of our floras and important monographs were written by non-Canadians” (Taxon, 26(1): 75, 1977).

Scope and content note
Boivin’s understanding of Canadian botany and its history, as parts of a global intellectual project, is manifest in the broad-ranging documents he assembled. His collection toward an encyclopedia of Canadian botany includes signed correspondence, curricula vitae, photocopies of specimens, publications lists, reprints, museum donation citations, and occasionally portraits, from around the globe. Boivin’s papers—71 linear feet of the biographical materials outlined above—are currently being processed. A catalogue of names A through F is available.

Other resources
Individual and group portraits of this subject are available from the Hunt Institute portrait collection. Thumbnails of the individual and group portrait holdings are available as PDFs for research purposes. For publication-quality images, contact the Archivist to place an order.

Biographical citations for this subject are available from the Hunt Institute biographical collection as a PDF.

Boivin, Joseph Robert Bernard
Photographer: Dr. J. M. Gillett
Date: October 1954 (at age 38)
Location: Ottawa
HI Archives portrait no. 3

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